motherhood

I am who I am, because you are who you are

May 15, 2017

Because motherhood is the most maddeningly fantastic love affair that I never knew I wanted.

And because sometimes you need a good cry.

Thank you Apple for another great ad. Happy belated Mother’s Day in true working mom fashion.

 

If you’re like me and think this song is everything. Link to a full version and lyrics are below.


 

Because You Are Who You Are | K.S. Rhoads

Whenever I’m around you.

I go home a little bit.

There’s just something about you.

Where the pieces all fit.

There’s a lightness that surrounds you.

And it guides me like a star.

Oh I am, who I am.

Because you are who you are.

Put your hand in my hand.

And I am made brand new.

Somehow you just understand.

You always know just what to do.

And even when you are away.

You’re never all that far.

Oh I am, who I am.

Because you are who you are.

The truth is this.

And don’t forget.

That my world’s better cause you’re in it.

There’s a lightness that surrounds you.

And it guides me like a star.

Oh I am, who I am.

Because you are who you are.

uncategorized

Happy Valentine’s Day – I Love You Anyway

February 14, 2017

This Valentine’s Day I’m definitely earning ‘Mom of the Year’ status. At least it started out that way. I had a Pinterest worthy moment this morning creating pancakes complete with festive Valentine’s Day M&M’s which my toddler quickly branded ‘disgusting’ before they even hit his plate. Even my little guy refused to eat (vigorously shaking his head ‘no’ at the sight of one).

In addition, rather than adorning my children in festive holiday themed frocks they went to school wearning Star Wars and mint green t-shirts.

I tried to make-up for my gross display of love in the form of pancakes by leaving behind some cute Valentine’s Day treats. Which, with my luck, will probably backfire. I’m imagining a few tantrums before dinner prior to me arriving home from work. Happy Valentine’s Day hubby!

But I did try. At least a LITTLE bit to be on board today.

As I flip through social media I realize that I may be the only person on God’s green earth bah-humbugging Valentine’s Day. But hear me out… I have good reason…

I’m f*&%ing TIRED. Yeah… that’s my excuse… I’m tired. Just tired enough to be dulled around the edges. Maybe because we had to change our son’s sheets in the middle of the night when he had an accident. Or that he came into our room in the wee hours of the morning to Darth Vader breathe on us until we were startled awake to take him to the bathroom. Or when we got him back to sleep and his brother cried probably because he lost one of his 15 pacifiers somewhere in his bed (kidding he only has like 4). Or when my husband’s not one but TWO alarms went off this morning. (For the record he NEVER gets up with the first alarm – honestly I could murder him).

Facebook and Instagram bombarded me with eloquent descriptions of unwavering love today. My lover, my soulmate, my best friend? UGH. I guess some combination of those things is true. We’re not ‘lover’ type of people. Too SNL skit-ish for us. My soulmate? I guess so (cue eye roll). My best friend? Well he’s one of my best friends for sure but I always think of that new Kay ‘Ever Us’ commercial – you know the one for the double stone diamond (insert type of jewelry here) for your best friend AND your true love which happen to be wrapped up in the same amazing human being?! Quite honestly if my husband did consider this gift, he’s also ask how much it would cost to split the diamonds so as to give one to me and one to his cousin, who is his true best friend.

So this Valentine’s Day I’ll tell the many loves of my life that I love them anyway, because I do. I REALLY do. With everything I am – in the middle of the night, through two alarms in the morning and when they call my cooking disgusting.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

-JLVR

 

working mom

3 people you need to boost your friend count

June 30, 2016

When we were younger we were told to ‘use the buddy system!’ The same is true for when you become an adult and especially when you become a parent.

There are three distinct friends every working mom needs to cultivate…

  1. A friend at work
    1. Fact – you’re at work A LOT. So find someone who shares a kid around the same age or similar child rearing philosophies. Grab lunch and talk about struggles around work/life balance or preparing for/returning from maternity leave. Share great deals you’ve found, talk about your favorite products or how weird it is when co-workers ask you about your bottle sanitation bag in the microwave like it’s a cool new meal that they’ve not yet discovered. You will always have a willing listener for your stories and viewer of your pictures.
  2. A friend at daycare
    1. Your kid knows their kid, and more importantly LIKES their kid. Strike-up a conversation at drop-off or pick-up, or do what I did and leave a note for the teacher to pass along. You’ll be glad you hooked-up. Not only is it great for the kids to continue their relationship outside of daycare (they usually know how to play together which is an added bonus!). But you will also have someone else to talk about the happenings at daycare – why a director left, get the skinny on specific rooms and teachers, learn which kids are teaching yours potty humor, etc.
  3. A friend in your current circle
    1. One great thing about longtime friend who also has a kid is that you have a history that predates your offspring. You can talk kids, or talk work, or talk relationship, or talk about weird shit you wouldn’t dare mention to anyone else, or NOT TALK AT ALL because you just get each other. Your relationship endures even though you now sometimes have little people in tow.

I’m the first one to say ‘ugh I have enough friends’ but trust me, you’ll be glad you reached out.

motherhood, working mom

guilty as charged – no more milk here

June 23, 2016

It’s officially over.

I’m not breastfeeding. I’m not pumping. My boobs are mine again. I should be rejoicing but instead I’m mourning the last drops of breast milk that went into New Baby’s bottles just the other day. Thinking about it still makes me feel a twinge of sadness.

It’s a bittersweet feeling. I am one of the few and lucky ones that didn’t have problems breastfeeding. Meaning that I had supply, I didn’t get mastitis, my baby latched and all was good. (As an aside, for anyone who has issues I applaud your efforts I’m not quite sure if I could have shown the same dedication in the face of challenges on this front.)

My approach to breastfeeding was simple – if it works for us great but if it didn’t then no worries the kid will still eat. I was given formula and turned out to be a healthy happy human so will New Baby.

Before you think I’m effortlessly chill let me just tell you I HAD to take that stance for my own sanity. I’m actually a crazy perfectionist at heart and if I didn’t tell myself that it’s totally cool to do or not do this and deliberately NOT have plans about it I would have driven myself into depression.

And now that the well has literally dried up I feel… a little… well… guilty.

  • Guilty for not breastfeeding longer
    • And extra guilty because it was relatively easy for me, I didn’t even have to work that hard for it and I’m not doing it anymore
  • Guilty for not trying hard to keep up my supply
    • I could have tried ‘power hour’ pumping sessions or all of the lactation inducing food items on repeat, but I didn’t
  • Guilty for being excited to have my body back
    • No one is relying on my body for anything and it’s kinda great

This is where it’s awesome to have a cheerleader in your life. As I confessed these things in our kitchen to my husband who was busy washing New Baby’s bottles from daycare he said:

I’m not going to pretend to understand how you’re feeling but what I will tell you is this…

  • You made it longer with New Baby than you did with V

  • He’s got over 9 months of breast milk under his belt and soon he’ll be One and onto real human food so it’s about to end anyway

  • You did awesome, it’s over… and time for you to get over it

 

He’s right. All of that is true. Especially the last point – it’s over and time for me to get over it. Stop dwelling and MOVE ON!

There really are so many things to look forward to…

  • My pump doesn’t need to ride shotgun on the commute to work anymore
  • My schedule just opened up, no need to block chunks of time and lock my office door to pump over emails
  • No more thawing bags of milk and stressing about losing a drop of liquid gold to a leaky bag
  • I get my boobs back

Oh.. and above all my little dude will be totally and completely FINE without it.

Cheers to that!

-JLVR

working mom

5 simple ways to support your pumping partner

June 9, 2016

Recently in my facebook feed the article on Romper by Jamie Kenney “12 Things Grown-Ass Men Do For Their Partners Who Are Breastfeeding” popped up in my feed. Since I was, at the time, still breastfeeding (which can been an all-consuming activity) I was intrigued. I agree with some of her points wholeheartedly such as ‘don’t be weird about boobs’ and ‘don’t complain about having to “share the boobs”’ (and for the record they are MY BOOBS THANK YOU!). I have been thinking of my own journey with breastfeeding and more importantly as a full-time working mom PUMPING. Here are my ‘5 simple ways to support your pumping partner’.

5 simple ways to support your pumping partner

5 simple ways to support your pumping partner

Clean It Up

I can definitively say that my husband washed my pump parts far more times than I did. He’s most excited now that I’m done pumping that he doesn’t have to wash the parts ever again! Be a good partner – know what the parts are, how they come apart and how they’re cleaned.

Leak Guard

One of the most devastating things for a mother who’s pumping is to see any precious milk go to waste. One of the sneakiest culprits of this is a leaky milk storage bag. It can literally bring a mom to tears. Keep an eye on the bags while they’re thawing and when necessary save any of that ‘liquid gold’ from going literally down the drain.

Take the Wheel… or the Baby… or the Baby and the Toddler…    

For me there was a clear tipping point where breastfeeding was no longer an option but pumping was. Not only was pumping an option, it was a very necessary one. Drive the car so she can get a pump session in on a road trip. Take the baby, or in my case the baby and the toddler, so that she can get a quick session in.

Camaraderie

After our kids were put to bed for the night I’d pump one more time before I retired for the evening… (and by ‘retired for the evening’ I mean promptly passed out until a screaming infant woke me in the middle of the night). My husband would sit up with me and watch TV while I pumped. It was a small gesture but so appreciated. He made me feel like I wasn’t in this alone.

Celebrate

One day this breastfeeding ride will come to an end, for some that may be sooner than others. If you’re like me, and likely most women everywhere, you’ll feel a mixture of excitement (yay my body is MINE again!) and guilt (should I try to keep going?!). You reach a point where it’s like squeezing water from a stone – it just ain’t gonna happen. And that’s OK! You want your body to be your own again? That’s OK too! Support your partner, celebrate the triumph of a freezer full of milk. Assure her that everything will alright and  that she did a great job. More importantly pop some bottles because the days of abstaining from alcohol are over!

As an aside…

You know something funny? Inevitably as a working mom in an office setting your co-workers will get a glimpse of something related to pumping at some point. Most notably me sterilizing my parts in a Medela Steam Bag* in the kitchen microwave. More often than not the women in my office knew NOTHING about what I was doing but there were a handful of fathers around my age that did. They knew the terminology, the gear, the struggle, everything. They were a source of support that I didn’t expect to find at work.

Happy Pumping!

-JLVR

*By the way the ONLY brand to buy is Medela in regard to a steam bag, they’re super sturdy! Trust me do not waste your money on generic.

working mom

3 reasons NOT to join a lactation support group

March 29, 2016

FACT: breastfeeding working moms think about lactation pretty much all of the time.

How much milk am I producing? Is it enough? Can I do anything to boost it? How many times and for how long should I be pumping? How can I keep my supply up?

It’s maddening sometimes how all consuming it can be. You know what sucks? When you actually reach out and join a support group that you think will provide actual support just to end up quitting in a fit of rage-tears because it hurt more than it helped.

3 Reasons NOT to join a lactation support group

  1. Extremes
    1. You want to breastfeed your baby until they are a toddler, can walk around, form sentences and ASK FOR YOUR BOOB? Cool, you do you. As soon as my kid cut teeth and bit me a few times we were done. And guess what, that’s cool too. You don’t have to join a demonstration to be committed to breastfeeding.
  2. Shaming
    1. You know who joins a lactation support group? People committed enough to breastfeeding to want the support of a community. Know what you probably shouldn’t do to those people? Shame them in any way for being ‘less-than’. There is no less-than! A group by definition is ‘a collection of persons considered together as being related in some way’. The best way to sabotage your own group is to shame people out of it. It’s counter-intuitive. You’re all there for the same reason. Be inclusive – that’s the point!
  3. Agenda Pushing ‘Advice’
    1. Guess what’s not helpful or supportive? Suggesting I change my work schedule to accommodate my baby’s eating schedule. If that was an option, I’d probably already be exercising it. So no, I cannot shift my work schedule to breastfeed on demand. Maybe try offering up actual advice rather than trying to push your agenda.

You know what’s not good for lactation? Stress and anxiety. So when your “support group” totally sucks at being supportive – ditch it.

-JLVR

 

working mom

Be kind to yourself

March 10, 2016

Sometimes this working mom thing is rough. There was a patch of time that I felt like I had to fight for everything – at home, at work – nothing was coming easy. It was all a struggle. Like trying to run through knee high water.

I was drying my hands in our bathroom going through the motions, on autopilot, blankly staring at myself in the mirror when a coworker approached me. She said…

I don’t know how you do it. You’ve got two boys at home and you work on a demanding and challenging account. You are always so even keeled and everyone has nothing but nice things to say about you. I really look up to you.

She almost brought me to tears. It was a complete surprise and so appreciated to hear her unsolicited impression of me. It felt amazing. Just the pick-me-up I needed.

Sometimes when you think no one is noticing… they are. For all the times you feel like you’re not doing your best, know that showing up and pushing through counts for something too.

-JLVR

newbie mom

Anniversary of our trip to Children’s Hospital

March 3, 2016

Professionally this month I celebrated the one year mark of joining a new client team. Personally we, as a family, celebrated the anniversary of our toddler’s health scare.

Back in February of 2015 we noticed an odd rash on our son’s face – we scheduled a doctors visit and found out that he had a very low platelet count that then plunged to dangerous levels. I can still remember the fear I felt welling in my throat when I received the call from his pediatrician while preparing for my first client all-agency presentation.

We were fortunate that things came out on top for us and our little guy made a full recovery – but it was definitely an unexpected and frightening experience. (More about our visit to Children’s, some of our learnings and our follow-up visits).

4 things we’ve learned over the last year since our trip to Children’s Hospital:

1) Trust your gut

It drives me crazy when people say ‘you’ll know it’. Too Olivia Pope ‘trust your gut.’ Maybe it’s the planner in me that just has to know. Like… “What does labor feel like?” “If you were in labor, you would know it.” Annoying.

When our son V woke up from his nap over President’s Day weekend last year with a rash on his face like we’d never seen before we just knew something was off. It just didn’t feel typical – it felt odd. So I’m going to do the thing I hate… tell you that ‘you’ll just know it’.  So here you have it…

If something is wrong, you’ll know.

2) Google is not your friend

According to Google our son had nothing or cancer… and all that’s in between. An online diagnosis can read like the disclosure on pharmaceutical advertisements – listing every single potential scenario that may be anywhere near a slight possibility. Needless to say, it’s worth the copay to go see your pediatrician for an actual diagnosis. They got a degree after all. Wouldn’t you rather have the peace of mind instead of worrying over the unknown infinite possibilities?

3) An elephant never forgets

It’s true that thoughts will flutter in and out of your conscious as you move further from the hospital stay. But the memory of the event never fully leaves. Instead the thoughts hang in the back of our minds waiting to be brought to the light. We kept a keen eye on V this past year. We’d take special notice and mentally log every mark and bruise on his active toddler body. Commenting to each other at the end of the day while brushing our teeth “Did you see that mark on his back? Let’s keep an eye on that.” Fortunately most kids his age that experience ITP and recover do not have a recurrence. However with no reason for it’s cause in the first place it can be cold comfort. So now, on the year anniversary, we’re putting it further to bed than we ever have before but our guard will not be completely down.

4) Teamwork makes the dream work

It’s true that I sometimes want to murder my husband a little bit in his sleep. (Mostly because he makes this insanely annoying ‘ticking’ noise – according to facebook and the inter-webs I may have misophonia. I realize this is ironic since I just told you in my second point that online diagnosis is a no-no). When we were faced with this scare we banded together instead of splintering apart. We were scared, we were facing the unknown and we did it together. Yay us!

I cannot express how thankful I am for the health of my family. Events like the one we experienced last year bring our fortune into sharp focus. We were lucky that our scare was brief however there are many that are not so fortunate. To mark the anniversary we will be donating some items to the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital Ronald McDonald Family Room. In what was, thankfully, our short stay at the hospital we really appreciated the toiletries we received and hot shower we were able to take in the RMHC Family Room.

If you’re ever wondering what to do with those soaps, shampoos and lotions you couldn’t help but take from the hotel on your last business trip – stock up and donate to RMHC!

Find out more about Ronald McDonald House Charities.

-JLVR

uncategorized

“I’m sooooo tired”…

February 19, 2016

… says me, all parents ever and over 1/3 of Americans.

FACT: If you’re a parent of young children you’re not getting enough sleep.

The good news is, you’re not alone. Over one third of America is right there with you on the struggle bus that is exhaustion. According to the CDC in an article on NBC News we’re not getting enough sleep as a nation. Cold comfort, I know.

We’ve not been getting much sleep in our house, and by ‘we’ I really mean ‘me’. My husband has learned better than to tell me he’s tired (or ‘exhausted’… he sometimes has a flair for the dramatic). Because no matter how tired he is… I am always more tired. This may or may not be true on any given day but for the most part it’s always true all the time. Especially with a toddler that is having night waking issues and a new-ish baby at home. No full night of sleep has been had in a very, very, very long time.

I cannot tell you how genuinely devastated we were to learn that President’s Day, our shared day off, that daycare was closed. We were looking so forward to dropping our kids off and then returning home to SLEEP!

Thankfully there’s a Starbucks on the first floor of my office building, which means I don’t even have to brave the harsh winter elements to get an extra jolt of caffeine to get me through the day.

Thank God for Coffee.

motherhood, working mom

New Mom? Quit Social Media.

November 18, 2015

My advice for a new mom going back to work? Quit social media.

Why? The recent bombardment of articles around infant death. Seriously.

Going back to work is difficult enough without reading about tragic stories involving infant deaths – which are rare. Even though these incidents are in the vast minority, infant death doesn’t feel rare when you see multiple articles pop up in your feed as you’re checking your social media between meetings. The worst thing? You can’t not read them – you’re compelled by some inner anxiety and fear that ensures you click thru. Why torture yourself?

Many of the articles I’ve read mention having to leave your infant with strangers. To that I ask, why are you leaving your infant with strangers? The people that take care of your child while you’re working should not be strangers. Get to know them for fuck sake you’re leaving your precious tiny human with them!

Many also mention a group care setting. Not comfortable with a group care/daycare setting? Don’t send your kid there. Find another option – a nanny, an au pair, relatives or determine which partner will stay home. You have options – exercise them.

I will tell you from experience, however, leaving your kid to go back to work with ANYONE other than YOU is f-ing HARD. Even if it’s your own relatives – the fact remains it’s not YOU. And that SUCKS.

What can you do to ease your mind? Get to know your care providers in any setting you choose. Ensure that appropriate certifications are in place, like CPR for instance, and that your child will only be allowed to sleep in a crib devoid of loose material on their back (not in any type of seat or carrier). Oh… and quit social media for awhile.

I just recently began back at work full-time after having baby #2 – ‘new baby’ according to our toddler – and all these articles are making me beyond anxious. Even though this is not my first rodeo, I furiously texted my husband in a panic just yesterday morning after reading yet another story.

Are you a new mom preparing to go back to work? Do yourself a favor and quit social media for awhile.